In what can be a scene straight from Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece “Psycho”, police have come across a man who has been living with the corpse of his sister and two dead dogs for the past six months in Kolkata.
Police stumbled on the skeletons on Wednesday night while investigating the death of Arabinda De, the owner of the house whose charred body was found inside a bathroom hours earlier.
Police reached the house in south Kolkata’s Shakespeare Sarani after getting a call about a fire.
The interrogation of Arabinda’s son Partha De (44) led to the discovery of the skeletons.
“We recovered Arabinda’s charred body from the house and sent it for post-mortem examination. Since it was a case of unnatural death, we posted two constables outside the house. They found Partha behaving suspiciously, which raised doubts,” said Deputy Commissioner of Kolkata Police (south division) Murli Dhar.
“We later interrogated him, during which he told us that the skeleton of his sister Debjani, who died nearly six months earlier, was in the house.
“He also told us that Debjani was depressed due to the death of their pet dogs and shunned eating which eventually led to her death,” Dhar said.
He said that prima facie, it appears Partha is “mentally unstable and refused to cremate his sister or dispose of the dead dog”.
“There is also evidence suggesting he used to feed the skeletons. We are probing all aspects and seeking help of medical experts to ascertain Partha’s mental status,” added the officer.
The skeletons were sent for autopsy on Thursday and a forensic team also visited the house to collect samples.
Besides the maggot-infested skeletons, police also recovered audio CDs containing some voices and ‘spooky’ music.
“The voice that was found in the music playing in the house belongs to an American evangelist,” Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police P.K. Ghosh said.
Ghosh said Partha had sealed off the windows of his room with cellotape and covered Debjani’s skeleton with a blanket to prevent the smell of the decomposing body from spreading out.
A suicide letter purportedly written by Arabinda was also found.
“The letter was dated June 8, which means he was planning the suicide for some time,” said Ghosh.
“Partha did not appear to be normal. His room was unkempt and he had a dishevelled appearance. The De family seemed to be reclusive. The family seemed to be living in a haze of depression. Both siblings were unmarried and Partha had left his job with the Tata Consultancy Services in 2007,” added Ghosh.
Psychologists called it a case of delusion and attributed Partha’s inability to accept reality to be behind the bizarre incident.
Psychiatrist Jai Ranjan Ram said the developments were triggered by a mental state of delusion and reflected the dependency of the family on the deceased.
“In such dependent relationships, people have trouble accepting the reality of death. The man may have some prior mental condition,” Ram said.
Clinical psychologist Sanchita Pakrashi felt the episode may have been influenced by some superstition or irrational beliefs.
Psychologist Om Prakash Singh said such incidents “have happened in many places of the world where people have lived with the corpses of their loved ones for many years”.
“Because of the extreme level of love and bonding, some people cannot accept that their near ones have died and create a world of their own believing there is no death,” he said.
In Hitchcock’s 1960 psychological thriller “Psycho”, protagonist Norman Bates is trapped in the persona of his mother, whom he had murdered alongside her lover out of jealousy.
Guilty over her death, and wanting to delete it from his mind, Bates exhumed her corpse and began to treat it as if she were alive again.